More Is Not Always Best

Americans tend to think that more of everything is better, don’t we?  And there are some things I wouldn’t mind having more of.  I’d love to have more time to do all the things I want to do.  More nieces and nephews would always be great!  More people in my006 circle of friends, more cats, and a little more chocolate in my diet would also be nice.

But when it comes to exercise, I’ve discovered that more may not always be better.  Once I graduated from the elliptical exclusively, I added in a variety of group classes–Zumba, Bootcamp, Body Pump, Pilates.  They were all good classes, good workouts, but as my fitness level increased, I began taking multiple classes consecutively, thinking that if I exercised more I could speed my weight loss.  In April of 2014, I found myself spending about 3 hours a day at the gym; yet, my weight stubbornly refused to budge.  I’d heard about plateaus.  Holy cow, it was frustrating!  I was exhausted.  I physically could not add in any more exercise time.  What was I going to do?

Desperate for some help, I signed up to work with a personal trainer at the gym.  During the initial assessment, I told the trainer how much I’d been exercising, but that my weight was staying the same.  He got this look of “Yeah, I’ve heard that a million times before”, and that’s when I learned about the General Adaptation Syndrome.  Basically, the body adapts to the stress (in this case amount and type of exercise) placed on it.  Because my workouts were predictable in both intensity and type of exercise, my body was not being challenged to increase it’s fitness.  It could handle what I was throwing at it.

The trainer’s recommendation?  Weight training.  Throw in something new and different to challenge the body.  I began working with the trainer for one session a week.  He put me through some short, high intensity workouts (enter my curiosity about CrossFit) and mixed in some strength training.  Slowly, I began to see the weight on the scale go down again.  Unfortunately, my trainer moved to Switzerland (I know, right?!), but he put me on a path to reach my weight loss goals.

I’m not a personal trainer (yet…), so I don’t have the expertise to develop a training plan for you (yet…), but for me variety has been the key.  A huge perk of being a part of a coached running group has been having the types of runs spelled out for me; I just have to do them.  Some days I run hills.  Other days I run speed intervals.  Some runs are shorter in distance but faster.  Saturday runs are generally slower in pace but longer in distance.  Lots of variety.  And that’s what I like about CrossFit.  Every workout is different, so I’m always being challenged (more about CrossFit another time).

I’m sure there are lots of online workouts to follow.  The only one I have experience with is IdealShape Up Challenge.  You can check it out here.

I signed up for the challenge as I was recovering from ITBS last year.  I found the workouts challenging, and the equipment needed was minimal and not that expensive.  The challenge is free, and the workouts are fairly short and easy to do in a small space.

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As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, right?  It keeps exercise interesting, if nothing else!

What is your exercise routine?

What do you find challenging about adding variety to your workouts?

 

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Or maybe I should say what runners do when they get hurt…  Marathon training has ground to a screeching halt, and 17 mile runs have been replaced with kneeling warrior stretches and monster walks.

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I’ve been having some pain in my psoas muscle for a while.  It finally got bad enough that I went to see a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries, and after a few treatments and basically no improvement, I got benched.  I am NOT happy!

Last year, I had to quit running for most of the summer because of a severe case of iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS).  Then, just 2 weeks after returning to running, I stepped on a rock, rolled my ankle, and wound up with this:

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I don’t know how other runners handle injuries, but this is what I do.

  1. Pout.  Ok, I’ll admit that when I get the news that I can’t run, the first thing I do is feel sorry for myself and spend some time pouting.  I fuss and fume and try to control my urge to kick something.  Basically, I act like a big baby.
  2. Accept the situation.  After I spend a day pouting, I recognize the wisdom in the doctor’s advice and agree that rest is what I need.  Resting is hard.  I fall into this trap sometimes of thinking that more is better.  In reality, though, rest is just as important as exercise.  Resting allows muscles to recover so that when you do exercise, you’re even stronger.  And resting when you’re injured is even more important.  Keeping on running through the pain just increases the likelihood of the injury getting worse and the recovery time longer.
  3. Use the down time to strengthen other areas of my body.  During my 3 month hiatus last summer, waiting for my IT band to heal, I realized that while my legs were out of commission (kind of), my arms were not.  So I focused a lot on upper body strengthening during that time.  Now that I’m back in the position of not being able to do a lot of activity that I’m used to, I’ll be focusing a lot on arms, back, and core again.  CrossFit has been nixed too, but I’ll still be working on getting that pull-up!  No squats required for that.
  4. Cross-train.  Cross-training is just doing any other activity besides running, or whatever your exercise of choice is.  A lot of runners cycle to cross train.  Or walk.  Mixing up activity works different muscle groups to help with overall strengthening and flexibility.  Going back to last summer again and dealing with ITBS, I couldn’t even ride my bike.  So I faced my fear of deep water and took swimming lessons!  I’m still not a great swimmer, but I can swim enough to give myself a pretty good workout.  It looks like I’ll be spending more time in the pool again now.
  5. Learn from the injury.  Looking back to my first injury, I learned a lot.  ITBS is mostly an overtraining injury.  When I reflect on what I was doing, I just want to bang my head against a wall and say, “Stupid!  Stupid!  Stupid!”  I was running too fast, too far too quickly.  And not stretching.  And not resting.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  But I learned from that, and I’m super careful now about only increasing my mileage by 10% per week, stretching after I run or workout, and while I’m still struggling to take rest days, I do try to take at least one rest day a week And what I’m learning from my current injury is to not ignore pain.  Maybe if I would’ve started treatment, or at least taken some time off, when I first felt that annoying groin pain, I wouldn’t be benched 45 days before my first marathon. Another lesson learned the hard way…

 

My First Ice Bath

The marathon countdown continues.  I’m 47 days away from the big day!  And I hit a distance PR this weekend at 17.25 miles.  It makes running 26.2 miles seem more doable.  I mean, I was only 9 miles away from a full marathon this weekend.  Holy cow!  I might actually be able to do this!

Running long distances wears me out.  A couple of weeks ago, I ran 15 miles and came home looking like this:

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So you can imagine what I felt like after 17 miles!  And besides being tired, my legs felt super tight.  Our running coach has been talking about the benefits of an ice bath, so I decided to try it out.  I look like a hot mess (but in my defense, I’d just run 17.25 miles!), but here’s how it went:

The idea behind ice bathing is similar to putting ice packs on an injury.  Ice decreases swelling and tissue breakdown and helps to flush out lactic acid, the culprit behind muscle soreness.  Sitting in an ice bath is basically just putting an ice pack on all the big muscles in your legs at once.  Then, when the tissues begin to warm, the increase in blood flow helps with the healing process.

So did it help?  Scientists question whether an ice bath is really beneficial or not, but I actually think it did help!  My legs felt tired the afternoon after the run and ice bath, but not as tired as I’d anticipated after 17 miles.  But I could really tell a difference when I woke up the next morning.  My legs felt like I’d had a workout, but I wasn’t one bit sore, and my legs didn’t feel tight or tired like they usually do.  And the only thing I did differently was take an ice bath.

Mmmm.  It looks like ice baths may need to become a part of my running routine.  Oh, brother.  That’s going to be 10 minutes that I’m not going to look forward to!

So what was your adventure for the weekend? 

Has anyone else had experiences with an ice bath?

 

Me? A Runner?

I never thought I would call myself a runner.  I never ran until I got to college, and then, when I ran even short distances, I would have so much pain in my knees I would need a week to recover.  And let’s not even talk about the extreme shortness of breath.  I seriously felt like I was going to keel over when I ran.  I hated running.  Hated it.

So it sounds unbelievable to say that I’m 51 days away from running a marathon and that I love running.  How did that happen?!  Especially since I spent most of the decade leading up to the big 4-0 more than just a little overweight.

If you’ve been following my weight loss story at all, you know that losing weight was a progression that involved a shift in my perspectives on food and eating which led to a change in eating habits and finally the beginning of weight loss.  It was October 2013.  I had lost about 15 pounds, and exercise had become a part of my daily schedule.  I was feeling motivated, but I was a little concerned about losing momentum with the upcoming holidays.  I had been exercising exclusively in a gym and with holiday hours at the gym, I knew that I would not be able to be as consistent with my exercise schedule.

So I decided to try running again.  It was something I could do anytime, anyplace, on Christmas day, morning or night.  But how to get started?  My former experiences with running were not good ones, and I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like pain.   So, you ask, what did I do?

  1.  Get fitted for quality running shoes.  I’ve discovered that the most essential piece of running gear for me is a good pair of shoes.  When my feet are happy, I have a much better run.  And, I discovered, that a big part of the knee pain I was experiencing was corrected with proper shoes.  Tulsa has several good running stores, but Fleet Feet has become my go to store for all things running.  When I went for my first pair of shoes, I jogged barefoot on a treadmill in the store for just a few minutes while my gait was recorded.  From that video the sales person realized that my feet rolled inward every time my foot landed which could contribute to knee pain.  He recommended insoles and a running shoe that was about 1/2 size larger than I usually wear.  Larger shoes give your feet more room to move with the motion of running.  I highly recommend being professionally fitted for running shoes.  They are definitely worth the expense, and since they only need to be changed every 300-500 miles, they will last for a long time.  And I’m running pain free!
  2. Download couch to 5K app.  So I had my shoes.  Now I needed to figure out how to get from not running at all to running, preferably without dying in the process.  The C25K app by Z003en Labs did the trick for me.  The app is free, and takes you through an 8 week walking/running progression to get you from the couch to running a 5K.  The app lets you play your own music which is only interrupted by the voice that says, “Begin running now.”  or “Begin walking now.” 004 It has a timer so you can see how long you’ve been running, and it lets you go back to previous days or skip ahead if you want.  I did repeat a few days early on before going out for runs was habit, but I would not recommend skipping ahead.  When I started the app, I didn’t really believe that I’d be running 3 miles nonstop at the end of 8 weeks, but I worked through the program religiously, and yes, at the end of 8 weeks, I could run 3 miles.  They weren’t a fast 3 miles, but I could do it.
  3. Run with a metronome.  Yep, I ran with a metronome.  It’s used to keep time in music, but it’s also helpful for runners to increase cadence.  Cadence is just how quickly you pick up your feet.  It has nothing to do with how fast you run, but is all about how many steps per minute you’re taking.  I discovered that a slow cadence was also part of my knee pain.  The sales person at Fleet Feet is the one who recommended a metronome, and I’m so glad he did!  The idea is that as you’re running, 005concentrate on taking a step with each beat of the metronome.  It’s harder than it sounds, but it was especially helpful for me.  While my cadence is still not where I want it to be, I only ran with a metronome for a few months until I began to feel the rhythm of running.  There’s probably a metronome app because it seems there’s an app for everything, but I went with this Seiko metronome that I could clip to my shirt and still listen to music on my phone.
  4. Sign up for a 5K race.  When I started running, my goal was weight loss and exercise.  I had no aspirations for running competitively, but signing up for a race gave me a goal to work towards.  And having a goal to meet provides accountability.  I know that if I don’t do my training runs, I’m not going to be able to complete the race.  Plus, races are just fun!  Runners are very encouraging and supportive of one another, and races have very much a party atmosphere.  Truthfully, completing my first 5K in May 2014, at the age of 41, is what really turned me into a runner.  I had such a runner’s high when I crossed the finish line that I could not wait to run again.  Here I am at the end of the race.cinco de mayo finish, 25.  Run!  To be a runner, you have to run!  I’ll be writing more about my progression in the sport, picking up speed, running longer distances, my favorite gear, etc., but these are the basics that turned pudgy 40 year old me into a runner and a marathoner hopeful.  Never say never, right?

Happy running!  And because I no longer need my metronome, I’d like to give it to one of you.  If you’re thinking about starting running or are a runner and think a metronome would be helpful, leave a comment telling me about your running experience.  Winner will be chosen at random.

 

Perspectives from Uganda

December 19, 2015.  I boarded a plane for Uganda, Africa.  Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa with a population of around 37 million people and an average life expectancy of around 53 years.  Over 7% of Uganda’s population live with HIV/AIDS.  Life in Uganda is hard, and I was going there with 4 other friends to visit a couple of orphanages and love on the kiddos.

One of our first stops was to the slums of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, where children are often left to fend for themselves.  Houses in the slums are basically rooms cut out of concrete walls–no electric, no plumbing, no furniture, no doors.  They are just holes in the wall.  We met 25 boys who all “lived” in 2 rooms that were about 10 x 10 .  Once or twice a week, rice is cooked and given to the children in the slums.  For many, this is the only meal they will have all day, or even for several days.  And it’s just rice.  Nothing else.  How many times do I complain that I don’t have anything to eat when it’s really more that I don’t want the choices that are in front of me?

360We visited both a boys’ and a girls’ home.  Many of the boys came from the slums.  Many of the girls were abandoned by their families.  I’d love to show more pictures but technical limitations won’t let me.

Perspectives change when I go on international trips, which is a good thing.  It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own little world, to develop tunnel vision, and forget that there’s a majority of the world’s population just struggling to survive every day.   Some how it makes the ants crawling over my counter tops in my comfy house where there is running water, electricity, heat and air conditioning nothing to get bent out of shape about.  Hearing these kids’ stories, seeing how they live in the slums, watching them pump water for all of life’s necessities, certainly redefines a bad day in my world.

370After all, I’m going to get up in the morning, turn on the faucet for a nice warm shower, choose from multiple options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, relax on my soft, comfy couch and when it’s time, go to a job that pays me more than enough to buy all the things I need.  I hope the next time I’m grumbling about how hard marathon training is that I remember my young Ugandan friends who pump and haul water and hoe the garden all before a breakfast of millet porridge and without a single complaint or frown.   I have no idea what hard is…

 

And Then Came Exercise

As of right now I am 1 month, 28 days, 18 hours, and 15 minutes away from running my very first marathon.  There’s a part of me that finds it really hard to believe that I’m actually serious about running a marathon and a part of me that can’t believe I’m fit enough to actually attempt a marathon…especially when I remember where I was 2 and half years ago.

Where I was was 180 pounds and unable to walk for 5 minutes without pain in my hip joints.  But when I found myself 10 pounds lighter at the end of the Daniel fast, I got this crazy idea of adding exercise to my new healthy eating habits.  Novel idea, right?

I hated the idea of exercise.  I couldn’t walk up the 3 flights of stairs to my office where I worked at the time without huffing and puffing and stopping at every flight to catch my breath.  I was embarrassed by my appearance in work out clothes, but I swallowed my pride, wedged myself into a pair of shorts and hit the gym.

I started on the elliptical.  My initial goal was just to stay on the elliptical for 30 minutes without dying.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, like brisk walking, every week, so my goal  was to exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week.

It sucked.  I was winded, hot, and sweaty, but when I finished my 30 minutes and saw the number of calories I had burned, I felt great.  But then I had this issue of getting home and not wanting to go to the gym again.  Somehow, I had to develop a habit of exercise.  I mean, I had the eating part down now, but we all know that physical health has to involve some type of physical activity too, right?

So these are some things I did to help develop a habit of physical activity:

  1.  Schedule exercise.  That’s right.  Put your gym time, walking time, Zumba classes, biking, or whatever exercise you choose on your calendar.  For me, having an event on my calendar gives me some accountability.  I’ve made room for it in my schedule, so I’d better do it.  And having it on the calendar prepares me mentally for that time.  I can review my agenda for the day, see that I’m going to the gym at 6 p.m., so all day I’m preparing myself for this next event.  I know me, and if I left exercising up to “I’ll go if I feel like it”, I’d never go!
  2. Choose an activity  you like.  If you hate running, don’t run!  You’ll never exercise if you equate exercise with torture.  I stayed with the elliptical for a while until I wasn’t gasping for air the entire time and started feeling kind of bored.  Then, I branched out to try different things.  I tried Zumba and found that I loved it.  I was no good at it, but I loved it!  I kind of felt like this lady in blue, but at least I was moving!
  3. Sleep in your workout clothes.  Yep, I just said sleep in  your workout clothes.  An early morning gym date was always the hardest for me.  Slapping snooze on the alarm was much easier than getting up, changing clothes, and heading out for some exercise.  But I discovered that getting dressed was half the battle.  By sleeping in my workout clothes, I eliminated that battle, so I could just pop out of bed, jump into my shoes and go.
  4. Pack a gym bag.  When I would schedule my exercise time at the end of my work day, I made it a habit to pack my work out clothes so I could go directly to the gym after work.  It’s much harder to go out again after I go home.  Being tired from a long day of work, the couch would call to me, and 5 minutes rest on said couch had all the power in the world to kill my good exercise intentions.
  5. Track your progress.  I became more motivated to continue exercising when I could see my progress.  Last time I did 30 minutes on the elliptical at level 2; this time I did 30 minutes at level 3, and I still walked out of the gym under my own power!  Progress!  It felt great!  Paying attention to my level of exertion was another way I monitored my progress.  When I first started Zumba, I could hardly make it through the warm up without keeling over.  The first time I made it through the class without feeling like I was going to puke was a happy dance day!
  6. Give yourself time.  It takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit and new research shows that forming a new habit can take anywhere from 2-8 months! You can read more about that here.  Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s something that takes time.

So what’s your activity of choice?  Remember that no matter what you do, even if you think it’s too little or too slow to count, you’re passing that person on the couch!

 

How It Began, Part II

So I’d been through the Made to Crave study.  Those ideas of identifying my triggers for eating, being empowered and determined about what I would eat were floating around in my head.  They were good things to think about, but I couldn’t seem to get any of the thoughts to translate into action.

For almost 8 months these ideas rattled around in my head.  I read about goal setting.  I researched the fad diets.  I wanted to lose weight.  But I kept on with the same habits that I had before, thinking that losing weight was just too hard.  I can’t do it.

And then came September…

Every so often the church that I attend participates in a Daniel fast together.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline that strips away something that consumes you to allow you to focus on God.  A Daniel fast, in particular, is modeled after Daniel in the Bible.  You know, Daniel in the lions’ den?  He tells the king he doesn’t want the rich foods that royalty eat; he just wants vegetables and water.  So a Daniel fast strips away all animal products, all sweeteners and leavening, and basically leaves you with fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes to eat.

I’d tried to participate in Daniel fasts before, but I’d never been successful.  My desire for foods I couldn’t have always won out.  But when the Daniel fast was announced to begin in September 2013, I felt strongly that I should participate.  I went into it with an attitude of not wanting to spend a lot of energy on what I could and couldn’t eat (like times in the past) but wanting to understand, really understand, what it meant to depend on God.

The first couple of days were horrible.  I was a Mountain Dew addict.  Yep, I probably drank 20 oz. of Mountain Dew every day!  But I quit cold turkey when the fast started.  Talk about a caffeine headache.  No fun.  I was hungry, but I was bound and determined to keep my vow to God that I would not eat certain foods.

It was during that fast that the Made to Crave concepts began to take root and cause change.  I would find myself thinking about food, desperately wanting something chocolate or salty and crunchy.  Mmmm, potato chips.  But I thought about the triggers Lysa talks about in Made to Crave.  Why was I craving that food?  What was going on at the moment?  Am I stressed?  Tired?  Bored?  Or am I really hungry?  Through the process of constantly evaluating why I wanted food, I began to identify what I felt like when I was stressed or bored.   And I began to identify what true hunger was.  It’s sad that I had fed myself so much that I didn’t even know when I was hungry, but there it was.

For 21 days, I lived on nuts, fresh veggies and hummus, and fruit.  No sugar.  No pop (as we in Oklahoma say).  No meat.  No dairy.  No junk food.  I didn’t cheat at all, and I began to feel empowered that yes, I can make healthy choices!  At the end of those 21 days without consciously trying to, I found that I had lost 10 pounds.  Joy!  I was doing a happy dance all over my house!

When the fast was over, I added back in meat and dairy, but interestingly, my palate (or was it my attitude toward food?) had changed, and I found myself craving the things I’d been living on for the past 3 weeks.  I went to our state fair shortly after the fast ended and decided to have my favorite fair treat–a corn dog.  Holy cow, it tasted amazing!  But it made me feel sick, honestly.  That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I knew I was done with those foods.  Change had finally begun.

So am I advocating fasting as a weight loss method?  Not necessarily.  In fact, people who think they will lose weight if they just quit eating are doing themselves more harm than good.  When calories are cut too quickly, the body goes into “starvation mode.”  It doesn’t know when it will get more fuel, so it hangs on to what it has.  And if you have diabetes or other medical conditions, you need to eat regularly.  What the Daniel fast did for me was shift my focus from the food to why I wanted the food.  Taking away what I shouldn’t have helped me to do the hard work of figuring out the power that food had over me.  Then, I was forced to learn more constructive ways to deal with stress and boredom.  Food, my go to fix, was not an option during the fast.  The key to getting my chubby caboose on the weight loss wagon was putting myself in a position where I couldn’t deal with stress, fatigue and boredom as I had in the past, and where hunger couldn’t be satisfied with fat and sugar.

If you’d like more information on the Daniel fast, check out this link.

How do you usually deal with stress and boredom?

Are you a stress eater?

What would you do if you couldn’t eat whenever you are bored or stressed?

 

 

 

 

 

Being Determined

OK, back to more lessons from Made to Crave.

Besides the idea of being empowered, the other big take away I took away from Made to Crave was to be determined.  Be determined about what to eat.

For most of my life, I just ate whatever sounded good, whatever was convenient.  What I learned, though, was that I need to be intentional about choosing what I eat.  If I leave choosing what to eat when I’m hungry to a whim, good choices won’t happen very often, if at all.

The concept of being determined is actually quite simple.  Decide in advance what you will eat for a meal, and eat only that.  The struggle for me came at meal time, though.  I had bad habits to break and craved those not-so-good-for-me foods.  I would decide ahead of time that I would have a spinach salad and an apple for lunch, but when it came time for lunch, I would find myself not wanting a salad and fruit.  My palate was still set on unhealthy.

But I had my goals to think about.  Wanting to reach my goal gave me the strength I needed to stick with my plan and have the salad.  And every time I made a good choice, I felt my resolve to choose healthy become stronger.  Eventually, over time, making healthy choices has become easier, and the tug towards the not so good foods has decreased.

Made to Crave suggests advanced meal preparation.  Ideally, all the food you would need for a week would be prepared and portioned out into serving sized containers.  Then, at meal time, a serving of whatever is on the menu is pulled from the refrigerator.  And, voila, lunch, without having to fight with yourself over what to eat!

I could never quite get to that point, though, of getting all my meals prepared in advance.  I do think about a weekly menu, however, and plan my grocery list around that menu.  Then, I usually prepare base items, like baking chicken, making a pot of soup, or roasting some vegetables.  I also keep frozen veggies and fresh fruit on hand.  The actual meal may not be put together, but knowing what my meals will be makes for quick meal assembly and no fuss about what’s for lunch.

I’m also a snacker, so I have to be determined about what I snack on as well.  I never leave the house without a healthy snack in my bag.  I know me, and if I get too hungry, anything in front of me is fair game.  I bring easy to carry snacks, like Lara bars, almonds, or raisins.

017There’s a lot more I had to learn about making healthy food choices, but being determined, deciding in advance what I would eat, was a good first step in consistently making healthy choices.

What do you think about advanced meal preparation?  What will you determine to eat today?

 

 

 

 

Sweetheart Run 2016

My marathon training schedule included a 10K time trial for this weekend.  It just so happened that the Sweetheart Run was scheduled for the same day, so I signed up for the 10K distance–alone, in a sweetheart run.  Single people do things like that.  My sweetheart has four legs and fur, but he wasn’t allowed on the race course.

IMG_0453I was a little concerned about how the race would go.  I’ve been having trouble with my psoas muscle.  It’s a muscle that runs from the spine to the femur (the thigh bone) and enables runners to run.  It causes pain in the groin area when I lift my leg, bend over, things like that.  It’s been bothering me off and on for almost a year but not really bad enough to think about until I started marathon training.  My long runs are increasing in distance and weekly mileage has almost doubled now, so I’m feeling that psoas pain on pretty much a daily basis.  I was concerned that I might be running with pain during the race.

And for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling this race.  Usually I’m super excited, but on race day, I was tired and just kind of wanted to get it over with.

But I did all my pre-race routines.  I got up about 3 hours before the race, showered (I’m not a coffee drinker, so a shower is my “caffeine” to get the day going), had at least a bottle of water, and ate a banana and a rice cake with peanut butter and honey.

I drove to the race site early to run a couple of miles to warm up.  I’ve discovered that as my runs have become longer, it takes 3-4 miles just to get warmed up, to find my rhythm, and to settle into the run.  I didn’t want to waste half of my 6 mile race just to get warmed up.  Despite feeling tired and a wind chill of around 19, when I started running, I felt great and my excitement for the race surfaced.

My goal for the race was to set a PR (personal record).  I ran my last 10K in 58 minutes, so I just wanted to beat 58 minutes.  I knew if I could keep my pace at around 9:15-9:20, I could PR.  The gun went off, and away we went!  I’m running along, feeling great, feeling no pain, and I looked down at my watch to check my pace to find I’m running at 8:45 (8 minutes, 45 seconds/mile).

So now the dilemma and a bit of fear kick in.  There is a strategy to racing and pacing plays a HUGE role in a successful race.  Go out too fast and you run the risk of tiring too early and not being able to run the entire race.  This faster pace felt good–for now.  Do I keep it up or do I slow it down to my planned pace?  This race was meant to be a time trial so I wanted to push myself a bit, and it was only 6 miles.  But on the other hand, it was 6 miles!  What if I decide to keep this pace and then struggle to finish the race?  I don’t like failing, and I was afraid if I pushed myself, I wouldn’t be able to finish the race.

I decided to go for it and crossed the finish line 55 minutes and 1 second later, feeling strong, and loving the fact that I set a PR by 3 minutes!

Sweethear Run 2016And I wound up in third place in my age division.  This was my prize.  I’m not sure if it’s a shot glass or a candle holder?  Thoughts?

016Not that every story has to have a moral, but if there’s a moral to this story, it’s to not be afraid to try!  I’m so glad I pushed myself to keep that faster pace.  And really, would it have actually been failure if I would’ve had to walk part of the race as long as I crossed the finish line?

The only downside to setting a PR is–

Next time I have to beat 55:01 minutes!

So whatever’s on your agenda today, go for it!  Is it walking for an extra quarter mile, trying out Zumba or Kickboxing, putting an extra 10 pounds on your bar, going for a bike ride?  You might just discover you can do more than you think you can!  And then, leave a comment to let me know what you did today!

 

 

Choosing This Instead of That

When people find out I’ve lost over 60 pounds, I get asked what I eat–like all the time.  I could be snarky and just say, “Food,” but I know the question is sincere so I keep the snark in check.  Most people probably think that to have lost 60 plus pounds and kept it off, I live on rabbit food.  But my answer to the question of what I eat is, “Anything I want.”

Yep.  I eat anything I want.  Nothing is off limits to me.  The key is that I just don’t eat what I want, and as much as I want, every time I want it.

Reading the book Made to Crave was what really got me on the road to weight loss success.  There are a couple of concepts author Lysa TerKeurst talks about, though, that I still think about, and practice, on a daily basis.  One of them is the idea of being empowered.

I don’t know about you, but when I tried to lose weight in the past, I immediately went to “I can’t eat that…or that…or that.”  Losing weight was just a long list of things I couldn’t have, and they were all the things that I couldn’t stop thinking about…and craving.  I’d hold off until that moment when something would set me off, and then I’d dig into that list of forbidden foods like I’d been starving.  So much for that weight loss attempt…again.

But it was always about deprivation.  Not letting myself have something.  Being empowered turns deprivation on its head and says, “Sure.  I can have that, but I CHOOSE not to.”  Paradigm shift again!  It sounds so simplistic, but understanding I had a choice over what foods I ate was so freeing to me.  Food does NOT control me; I control what I put in my mouth.

I used to think that I had no self-control.  That was why I couldn’t lose weight.  I didn’t have the will power to make healthy choices.    I mean, think about it.  What’s the one thing you want to do if the sign says “Don’t Touch”?  If you’re like me, you want to touch it!  Putting certain foods on a can-never-eat-this-again list, just made me want them all the more.  Understanding that I was empowered to make healthy choices showed me that I did, in fact, have self-control.

So every day, as I set out to reach my daily meal goals, I make choices.  I could have pizza if I wanted, but I choose not to.  I choose to have a salad for lunch today.  Those chocolate chip cookies in the cafeteria look really yummy, but I choose to have an apple instead.  I know I could have the pizza or cookies if I wanted, but I’m choosing not to have them.  It works for me.  And the longer I make those healthy choices, the more natural, and easier, it is for me to choose healthy options.

And sometimes I do choose to have a slice of pizza or a chocolate chip cookie or some other “forbidden food”.  SOMETIMES.  I don’t have those bad for me things every day or even every week.  They are treats for times when I’m with friends or at a birthday party, and then, they are small portions.  I’m understanding now that what I eat affects how I feel, and to feel my best, pizza and cookies won’t cut it.  So I choose not to have them on most days, and I choose fruits and veggies instead.

I’ll be writing more later about what I typically eat during a day, but not depriving myself of anything has been huge for me.  In saying that, though, I also try to avoid temptation.  I love chocolate, and sometimes a girl just needs some chocolate, but instead of buying a big bag of chocolates, I pick up one single serving packet.  It calms the craving, but there’s nothing left in the house to continually call to me.

So be empowered today!  You have a decision to make about what you eat.  What will it be?  For me, I’m going with the baked chicken breast and butternut squash soup for dinner.

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